Back to stories 21st Century Wind Towers
Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School
Location United Arab Emirates
Year / Category 2013 / Global High Schools – Asia
Project Installed 12 kW solar PV and working on an innovative wind tower system for cooling the school


Passive-cooling wind towers (Barajeel in Arabic) have been part of local architecture in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for generations, and one school in the country is pioneering a modern take on the technology that could dramatically lower the cost of air conditioning.

The Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School is leveraging its Zayed Future Energy Prize award to put itself on the front lines of a cutting-edge cooling innovation that could make it the first passive-cooling school in the UAE.

The school installed a 12kW rooftop solar PV system to generate some of its own electricity, but it’s the wind tower project that seeks to dramatically reduce electricity demand for air conditioning in the first place.

The project will bring the traditional wind tower into the 21st century, “aiming to develop a leading alternative to energy-intensive mechanical air-conditioning systems,” says Dr Ben Richard Hughes, the project leader and a director at Free Running Buildings, the company designing and innovating the technology in partnership with the school.

Students are playing a critical role in the project that will install 24 FREECOOL wind towers at the school. Firstly, they were key in bringing the out-of-the-box idea from concept to reality and are now providing crucial feedback during the pilot and subsequent implementation phases of the project.

Dr Hughes noted that the Zayed Future Energy Prize award not only inspired the students to imagine a better future; it also demonstrated a confidence in the technology that has “given the project team the ability to design improved innovations in development of the system, emboldening them to pursue more creative solutions to problems encountered.”